Lake Trasimeno or Trasimene (in Italian: Lago Trasimeno), is the largest lake in the Italian peninsula with a surface area of 128 km², slightly less than Lake Como. The Tiber River flows some thirty kilometers to the east of the lake, but the lake and the river are separated by hills: no major river flows directly into nor out of Lake Trasimeno, and the water level fluctuates significantly according to rainfall levels and the seasonal demands from the towns, villages and farms dotted round the shore.
The first civilization to inhabit this place was the Etruscans, and it's said that they found Trasimeno similar in shape to a liver. The Etruscan presence is not surprising, because when the lake was bigger, Perugia, Chiusi and Cortona, three of the main Etruscan cities, were all within 20km of the lake. Practically nothing remains from the Etruscan period, and only some traces of the Romans are found. Castiglione del Lago, has some Roman ruins and its main streets are structured like a chessboard in the Roman style.
Castiglione del Lago
Castiglione lies on the once important highway between Orvieto to the south, Chiusi to the west, and Arezzo to the north. Its position in this hotly disputed territory, pitting Etruscans against Romans, and later Tuscans against Perugians, inevitably brought a long cycle of death and destruction to the town. The original fortifications were destroyed and rebuilt on numerous occasions.
It was only during the reign of Emperor Frederick II (early 13th century) that a period of relative stability ensued.
Later the city fell under the control of Perugia, within the Papal States, becoming the fiefdom of the powerful Baglioni family. In 1550, Pope Julius III bestowed it upon his sister. In 1563, her son, Ascanio della Corgna, became the Marquis of Castiglione and Chiusi. The fiefdom became a prosperous, but short-lived Duchy in 1617. Duke Fulvio Allesandro died without heirs and the town was re-absorbed into the Papal States.
Castiglione nowaday’s has a small hospital with first aid section “pronto soccorso”, which you hopefully will not need. But is handy to know.
Passignano sul Trasimeno
Passignano or Passnianum was the only junction linking the north of Italy to the centre of the peninsula. After the Etruscans and the Romans, the Longobards and the Bizantines alternated their domination along the north coast of the Trasimeno lake where the town rose. In the Middle Ages this zone come under the rule of Perugia. After the mid-1200s the fortified Passignano began to take on the appearance it has today. The Rocca and the Torre del'orologio are the oldest remains of this period. During the 1800s Passignano gradually declined and became a modest fishing town. Since the beginning of the 1900s it has become an important tourist resort.
Restaurants in Passignano sul Trasimeno:
There are many good restaurants in the centre, along the shores of the Lake.
Two worthwhile mentioning a bit outside of the town:
Kursaal: Hotel and Camping with very good restaurant in the Via Europa 24 Tel: (+39) 075828300
Il Gabbiano: Pizzeria with good prices in Loc. S.Agnese 22 Tel: (+39) 075 8296190. Just outside Passignano, following directions for Castel Rigone and Torricella.
For who likes eating fish: Il Grottino, in the Via della Vittoria 10, Tel. 075 8296438
Isla Maggiore is the only inhabited island on the lake. St Francis of Assisi lived on the island as a hermit from 1211. The 12th century Church of Saint Michael the Archangel was built on the top of the hill. The island's only town reached its height in the 14th century, after the establishment of a Franciscan Monastery is 1328. Most of the towns buildings date from this period. By the 1800s the town had a population of 700 and was in decline. (nowadays only 20 inhabitants) The Guglielmi castle was built on the monastery in the 1880's, which has since fallen into disrepair. Currently the castle is being turned into a spa.
Boat times : http://www.apmperugia.it/canale.asp?id=27. For lunch the restaurant L’Oso can be recommended. Fish from the lake is their specialty. The owner is a fishermen. The terrace is in the garden overlooking the lake. Via Guglielmi 39, Isola Maggiore, 06069 Tuoro sul Trasimeno. Tel. 075 8254255, mobile 348 3665110 (Edoardo).
Tuoro sul Trasimeno
Tuoro sul Trasimeno is a small agricultural center overlooking the plain of Lake Trasimeno on the western edge of Umbria, on the road you would take to go from Perugia (36 km southeast) to Arezzo (42 km NNW). This is the SS75bis, in Tuscany (Terontola) changing into the SR71, leading to Arezzo.
It is more or less agreed that it was in the comune of Tuoro that the famous battle of Lake Trasimenus was fought on June 24th, 217 B.C., in which Hannibal delivered a crushing defeat to the Roman army in the Second Punic War. The battle remains the main tourist attraction: there is a small museum of interest to Roman army buffs, and a few of the cremation sites (ustrina) may still be seen, by prior arrangement. The Information centre is in the Parco il Sodo, Associazione Pro-Loco, 06069 Tuoro sul Trasimeno, Tel /Fax:+39 075 825220. This also is the seat fo the Tourist Information (Pro Loco).
You can follow the stages of the battle, any time of the year, on foot. There is a path set out, taking you into the valley where the main battle took place and giving explanation about that bloody event many years ago. At the Tourist Information of Tuoro you can get maps explaining the route to take.
Restaurants in Tuoro sul Trasimeno
Capricci di Merion, very chic, different for a special occasion, lovely settings. Via Pozzo, 21. Tel. +39 075 825002
L'Antica Dogana, top quality food, excellent presentation. Overlooking the lake. Read our blog about this restaurant. Google map: 43.195103, 12.050357. For reservations: +393483923716
Lo Scoiatolo, restaurant on top of the hill, in Loc. Gosparini, following signs for Niccone from Tuoro. Wonderful view over the Lake. Local food. Address: Località La Cima-Gosparini, 164 bis. Tel. +39 075 844119
Il Vecchio Mulino, bustling pizzeria with friendly owners, Luciana and Raffaelle. Very good address for pizza. Read our blog. Address: Via Firenze 6, tel. +39 075 826185
At the Lake side there is one more restaurant: Ciao Ciao. Just follow directions for Tuoro’s beach.
The life guards at the beach, rent out sunbeds, umbrella’s, water bikes, canoe's etc. You can ask them information about the surf school and kite surf.
Restaurants recommended by house owners around the lake
- L'Oca Bruciata (ristorante pizzeria with local food) tel. +39 0758307008 – closing day is Monday
- La Loggetta tel. +39075830144 – closing day is Tuesday
Lillo Tatini: (restaurant and winery) tel. +39075837771 – closing day is Monday
In Castiglione del Lago
- L'Acquario (seafish and fish from the lake ea) 075 9652432 – closing day is Wednesday
- La Cantina tel +39 0759652463 - closing day is Monday
On the SS146, in the village of Moiano (Città della Pieve) is Pozzetto, good quality local food. Via Stradone, 178, tel. +39 0578 294598
And before arriving at Paciano there are indications for Il Casale, very good restaurant in the countryside run by “Pina”. Località Cerreto 50, Paciano. tel. +39 075830465
In Tuoro sul Trasimeno and Passignano: A good supermarket is the “A&O” in Tuoro sul Trasimeno at the end of the Via del Porto, direction Passignano sul Trasimeno.
A cheaper supermarket with still a wide selection of products is the EUROSPIN. Driving from Tuoro to Passignano sul Trasimeno over the SS75bis (not the high way), you will pass it just before Passignano. It is on the left hand side of the street, next to the Peugot garage. Coming from Passignano towards Tuoro, you’ll find it on the right hand side.
In Passignano centre, just behind the town hall, is the SIDIS supermaket and driving from the centre towards Tuoro sul Trasimeno, there is the CONAD supermarket on the left hand side, just after the petrol station.
In Castiglione del Lago, there is the COOP and the SUPER-SIDIS, along the SS146 just outside of town driving towards Chiusi. Both are large supermarkets with wide choices. A cheaper supermarket in Castiglione del Lago is the LIDL. Again close to the SS146, but on the other side of town, driving towards Cortona. Opposite of the LIDL is a large supermarket called Famila.
In Cortona there are several supermarkets of which we mention two: COOP, driving towards Arezzo at the end of the town, left of the traffic lights. You will see it along the road. A cheaper supermarket is the Pennymarket which you will find just before the roundabout, arriving from Terontola, on your left hand side.
Markets around the Lake
(always in the morning until 12.30-13.00)
Castiglione del Lago : Wednesday
Passignano sul Trasimeno : Saturday
Camucia, near Cortona has a very large market every Thursday
Tuoro sul Trasimeno : Friday
Città della Pieve : Saturday
Panicale : Friday
Piegaro : Wednesday
Cortona : Saturday
From Lake Trasimeno it is only two hours to Rome and a good hour to Florence. To both cities you can get regular direct trains from either Terontola or Chiusi. Check train times at: http://www.ferroviedellostato.it/ferrovie/util/inglese.jsp.
Events around the lake
First week of May: Coloriamo I Cieli – Castiglione del Lago – small airport along the SR71 – Kite flying event (in 2007 there were more than 300 “kiters” from all over Italy and many northern European countries). For lovers of kite flying, and not only: there are exhibitions about the story of the Lake Trasimeno area, its environment, the safeguarding of the area, the discovery of lost traditions and genuine wholesome food. There is an assembly of small hand painted paper hot air balloons, poetry, hot air balloon flights, a book fair, nature walks and boat rides, and so much more.
The last weekend of April, also at Castiglione del Lago at the small airport, there is an exhibition of small air planes and light weight airplanes.
Cortona: end of April and end of May: “Giostra dell’Archidado” – a medieaval festival based on real events of the middle ages.
Last weekend of June: Sagra del Pesce at Borghetto, Tuoro sul Trasimeno. Specialty = Fish from the lake and the famous Tegamaccio.
The Sunday after Corpus Domini (end of May/beginning of June) the town of Tuoro organises an infiorata that’s worth while a visit. After mass, around 11.00 am the procession passes over these beautiful flower decorations:
Last Sunday in July : Passignano sul Trasimeno - Palio delle Barche – medieval re-enactment of a boat race and a week of festivities prior to the event.
Last week/10 days of July: Trasimeno Blues, blues event with a lot of free concerts of famous artists around the lake. Program: http://www.trasimenoblues.net/
Mid August: Tuoro sul Trasimeno, village feast remembering the battle against the Romans in this area that was won by Hannibal.